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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Easter



Those of you who consider yourselves members of the Christian faith, and who at least occasionally attend church, have probably been to at least one Easter Service. Even those of other faiths are likely to have heard some form of what is referred to as the Paschal greeting. This is an Easter custom practiced by many Catholic and Protestant Christians. Following this tradition, instead of "hello" or its equivalent, on Easter morning one is to greet another person with some derivative of "Christ is Risen!" or "He is Risen", with a response such as "Truly, He is Risen" or "Indeed He is Risen". In some cultures, e.g., in Russia, it is also customary to exchange a triple kiss (signifying the trinity) on alternating cheeks after the greeting. We have a large Polish population near my home as well as family members who have married into Polish traditions. For their benefit I will include that according to the internet in that tongue this greeting is "Khristus Zmartvikstau! Zaiste Zmartvikstau!"


This year the American Family Association had Easter buttons available for purchase. These have the inscription: Easter Means: HE LIVES

This is important to me as I witness continuing secularization of Easter in the same manner as most Christian Holidays. A Google search would cause one to believe that Easter was about flowers, spring, pretty dresses, new suits, hats, baby chicks and bunnies, butterflies, brightly colored eggs, etc., and etc. I have enjoyed many if not all of these symbols over the years. An Easter egg hunt with my Grandchildren is a lot of fun. I am a foody and enjoy any holiday feast. This is a good occasion for a family gathering. Yet the idea that it is a celebration of Christ rising from the grave, thereby fulfilling His promised role of saving the world, is clearly lost on most of our population.

I recall when we all talked about "Easter Break" from school. This term has now been replaced in public schools by the politically correct "Spring Break", we wouldn't dare to say "Easter" in today's on so sterile learning environment. I don't understand why schools are allowed to teach about witchcraft but not Christianity!

Particularly annoying to me is the somewhat vague concept of a rabbit hopping around a yard laying colored eggs in order for children to have a treasure hunt. First there are the complications associated with giving one of these over-breeding mammals access to my home to preform it's magic on those frequent occasions when the weather prohibits an outside "Egg Hunt". Then there is the notion of a rabbit laying eggs, I wonder what sort of dark twisted mind originated that concept! I could go on and on.

An interesting perspective on these buttons came from my Pastor during discussions over lunch last week. Primarily he liked the emphasis on "He Lives" rather than on "Easter" because the resurrection of Christ is the true meaning and importance of the occasion being celebrated. His thoughts as I understand them were also swayed by two other factors.

The date of our traditional Easter is probably more closely aligned with the actual event celebrated than is that of most annual Christian celebrations. However, the date calculation has often been in disputed and has been altered several times. It is still reckoned differently by some branches and segments of the faith. It is not the date that we should be celebrating, but the miracle of Christ rising from the dead.

The manner in which Easter has been celebrated is clearly an amalgamation of Judaic, Neopagan, Wicca, and pagan customs many of which predate Christ. Most of these symbols and customs (see the partial list in para 3) were incorporated in early rituals to make Christianity, as a the new religion, more familiar and acceptable to the people being reached.

May the joy and blessings of this occasion be a light to enjoy as you and yours gather and celebrate. I pray that you have accepted or will accept this marvelous gift that God has prepared for all.

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